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Talent Thai at BIG+BIH Fair

Yvonne Xu surveys the Thai design scene and talks to new talents spotted at the popular BIG+BIH fair.

Talent Thai at BIG+BIH Fair


October 25th, 2012

Thai designers have always been strong contenders in the ASEAN design landscape, but they are also a unique group. The country’s rich resources of raw materials and long-standing tradition in craft-making stand contemporary designers in good stead. Today, government bodies such as Department of International Trade Promotion (DITP) are keen to bolster this advantage. On top of the multitudes of design schools and centres presently creating a strong and vibrant design culture, large-scale fairs are also part of the plan in cementing Thailand as a design centre. One that recently took place is the Bangkok International Gifts Fair and Bangkok International Houseware Fair, better known as BIG+BIH.

Talent Thai

Fruit Bowl by Studio248

Spanning over 40,000sqm with more than 1,600 booths of lifestyle, homeware and design brands, the fair was open from 16 to 21 October to members of the trade and also to the public. Special sections included Design Halls and International Pavilions, but a clear standout was the showcase of Talent Thai, a project that focuses on the nurturing and promotion of upcoming local design brands.

Organised by DITP and Thai Lifestyle Products Association, Talent Thai has successfully established more than 100 Thai brands including Anon Pairot, Trimode, and Korakot in its last eight years. This time, 34 new Thai brands were presented at BIG+BIH. Apart from being given key local and international platforms to showcase their work, the design start-ups also got to attend workshops and received business training. We chat with a few designers to find out more about the project, and what it means to be designing out of Bangkok today.

Chobb Studio

Star Stool by Chobb Studio

Chobb Studio
Designers: Nakarin Kamseela, Prathana Mahawong

What have you learnt from the Talent Thai project?

We started only about two years ago and this is an unclear, unstable beginning phase for us. We’re normally very focused on design and have no idea about marketing our work. With Talent Thai, we know now how to look into pricing, into brand positioning.

What is the state of Thai design today?

Thai designers are ready; we have ideas, imagination, concepts but our tools and technology are not that up-to-date. Our manufacturing tools are not so advanced so there are some limitations to our creativity. Handmade furniture still has a better quality than factory-made ones. That’s why our pieces are handcrafted. But we hope to combine machine and handicraft one day.

Chobb Studio


Cement Wood Lamp by Thinkk


Truss Vases by Thinkk

Designers: Ploypan Theerachai, Decha Archjananun

The Thai design scene is quite crowded as it is. How do you differentiate yourselves?

We never thought about competing with other designers. We work as a design studio, and we like to explore. We work with ideas, thus “thinkk”. Maybe that’s what makes us special. We added an extra ‘k’ to ‘think’ hoping our ideas are a little bit more special.

What challenges do you face working in Bangkok?

Asia sometimes gets looked upon as a place for cheap products. We are trying to change that perception, to add value to our production with good design.


Studio 248

INF Stool by Studio248

Studio 248

OOs Collection by Studio248

Designers: Purim Kraiya, Sukalaphan Suwansomboon, Jakkapun Charinrattana

Why is design such a popular career choice in Thailand?

I think young people in Thailand today want to do what they love. For me, even though I didn’t study design, I wanted to be a designer. That aspiration started when I wanted to decorate my room, to have some good products in my room and I thought why not make my own.

How are Thai designers received locally?

People here tend to look at prices – if two designs are similar in concept, the cheaper one is the better option. This is unlike the Europeans who go for originals.


Top image: Up Lamp by Chobb Studio

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